Every Thursday I make art with the individuals. We used to have three "instructors" and two classes of twenty people, which meant we were limited in what kind of art we could do. It was hard to give anyone one-on-one attention, so we let them paint what they wanted.
Over time, the group shrank down a bit, so each instructor was able to sit with individuals and help them paint certain things. One girl wanted me to teach her how to paint flowers. One man only painted stripes, until I showed him how to paint a tree, a sun, a bird, fruit.
In addition to the weekly art class, a fellow instructor and I started thinking up projects to do with the individuals. By going around to classrooms and working with five or six people at a time, we made fleece scarves, Valentines with "mailboxes," and papier mache Easter baskets.
Now the day center is in a new, gorgeous building, and they're using a Montessori approach to learning. This means they have an art class built into their schedules. That, in turn, means that my fellow instructor and I can come up with projects do to with people with mental disabilities who come in from the community.
It's fun because we're working closely with fewer people, so everyone gets the attention they need. We can tackle all sorts of art projects because we can help them more. We've made "stained glass" windows out of contact paper and tissue paper, built things out of popsicle sticks, and done crayon rubbings.
I'm trying to remember back to my art classes in school to get project ideas, but I'm not coming up with much. I found a library book of 150 art projects for parents to do with their kids. Unfortunately, most of these projects are too involved to do with our time, space, and supply constraints.
Standard supply list...
Easy enough to prepare...
Not too messy...
I'm on my way to class now, stinky cooler in hand!
I'm sure I'll have some breathtaking art for you soon.